Health & House Plants
Our homes are more than just four walls where we sleep, eat, and take cover from cooler temperatures. They are also the place where we create memories and find peace after a long day. So, why not make them the best they can possibly be? An easy step towards creating a healthy and happy home is the introduction and addition of houseplants.
Benefits of houseplants in your home include increased air quality, herbs for cooking, and educational moments for your kids. Numerous studies show that live plants can make a person happier, too.
Health Benefits of Having House Plants Indoors
When NASA recognized how much time people spent indoors and that the quality of our indoor air was sub par, a study was conducted to identify which plants could maximize your indoor environment when they were added to your home. After proper research and testing, NASA applied their findings to the space station where their astronauts spend much of their time.
In addition to producing oxygen from carbon dioxide, houseplants are able to filter the air by eliminating significant amounts of benzene, formaldehyde, and/or trichloroethylene. With this in mind, NASA suggests about 15-18 “good-sized” houseplants (plants that fit in 6-8” diameter containers) to have a beneficial effect in a 1,800 square-foot space.
When winter sets in, the effects of dry and cold air cause coughs and colds, as well as parched skin and hair. Plants help to create natural humidity indoors through a process called transpiration. The stomata, the small porous openings on a leaf’s surface, release water into the atmosphere around them by transpiring, or “sweating.”
By grouping plants together this “sweating” effect can be multiplied and create a healthier environment in your home. Transpiration can take place in exponential form by placing numerous plants in one singular container or having multiple plants potted separately but placed together.
Purposes for Indoor Plants
Houseplants typically take on three main jobs – decorative, healing, or providing food.
Decorative plants vary from being leafy and lush to providing colorful blooms to having a simplistic beauty to them. Placing plants in decorative planters around your home increases their showmanship and functionality. Choose containers that complement both the plant and the space in which they will be, and you’ll have a winning combination that adds a punch of color or texture to your home.
Some of the most popular decorative houseplants include African Violets, English Ivy, Anthurium, Christmas Cactus, Gloxinia, and Begonia. The reason these plants are so popular is because they do well in indirect sunlight and do not heavily rely on daily watering to thrive.
It is important to choose plants for your home that are conducive to your lifestyle. If you travel often, you may not want to invest in plants that need constant watering or moving throughout your home for various light requirements.
Plants have always been used to provide food and to add flavor to our foods. Many people grow herbs through the summer months, but shy away from continuing herb gardening through winter months. The majority of herbs that are grown in outdoor gardens will thrive beautifully indoors, too. A few culinary staples that can be grown indoors include basil, bay, chives, oregano, parsley, sage, tarragon, and thyme.
You may choose to have houseplants that provide natural healing qualities. These plants and their remedies date back to Paleolithic times and were used for medicinal purposes. Among the vast range of healing houseplants a few are more popular than others: aloe vera, lavender, and rosemary.
Aloe Vera has become a household staple throughout summer when used to combat the ill effects of spending too much time in the sun. Sunburn, heat burns, rashes, and other skin ailments are soothed and healed using aloe vera. As a form of stress and pain management, lavender has been found to help sooth anxiety and reduce the effects of insomnia.
Rosemary can provide benefits beyond adding flavor to a culinary experience. The scent of rosemary is said to promote mental clarity and alertness while keeping someone calm. A 2003 study shows that working in rosemary scented areas will increase your long-term memory function.
Placement of Plants
Placing plants throughout your home is beneficial to you and your family, but where you place them will be beneficial to the plant itself, too. Plants vary in their sunlight and watering needs and consideration to these will determine how healthy your plants are.
Plants get their energy from the sun, and while sunlight needs vary among plants, most all need at least a little sunlight. The process in which plants convert sunlight to energy is called photosynthesis. Some people think that by providing more direct sunlight their plant will have more energy to grow, but that isn’t the case. Plants can be “sunburned” so it is important to find out how much direct or indirect sunlight is useful.
Direct sunlight is the area of a room the sun actually shines on. For instance, stand in a room in your home and observe how much of the floor is covered by moving sunlight throughout the day. It may be for half the day or only just a few hours. The other areas of the room that are lit by the sunlight but are not directly touched by it are areas of indirect sunlight. Knowing and understanding this difference is the first step to helping your plants create the proper amount of energy by placing them in the appropriate space.
Airflow and temperature are also considerations when deciding where to place houseplants in your home. Avoid placing plants in areas where drafty windows or doors allow cold air to sweep through, as your plants will experience temperature shock.
How To Plant For Indoor Success
After deciding where to place your houseplants you’ll want to decide which containers to plant them in. Larger and deeper containers are ideal for hearty and deep-rooted houseplants, while shallow and small containers can be used to plant single herbs.
Equip yourself with gardening gloves and purchase a good potting soil to begin the repotting process. You may want to place a few stones in the bottom of your container to help contain the potting soil from running through the drain holes. Fill a container with potting soil about half way. Take your houseplant and place it in a hollowed out area of the potting soil. Apply a small amount of water before filling the remaining container area with more potting soil.
Place your containers in vinyl saucers to protect the surfaces on which they sit, or on cork mats to help absorb excess water.
Houseplant Maintenance & Care
In addition to sunlight, plants regularly require water to thrive and grow. There are a few rules of thumb when it comes to determining how much water your plant will need. Plants with large or very thin leaves, or those with fine surface roots, often require a greater amount of watering. Large plants inhabiting small pots will need more water than if they were in proportionately larger containers, and plants that flower or grow rapidly need more water than others.
Watering your plants and remembering to water your plants are two very different things. Keeping your houseplants correctly watered has never been easier now that water sensors and plant sitters are available. CobraCo™ Wormies tell you when your plants are in need of water by changing color. The CobraCo™ Plant Sitter® Water System is an automatic watering system that provides a healthy well-balanced diet of water & fertilizer for your plants. This is the perfect solution for busy houseplant owners and for people who spend a lot of time traveling.
The internet and your local garden center are both great resources for identifying and learning about the sunlight and water needs of your houseplants. Keep in mind that some plants like to maintain a level of moisture at all times, while some plants prefer to dry out before the next watering.
Houseplant fertilization is an important, and often overlooked aspect of houseplant care. Fertilizing for indoor plants is more important than for outdoor plants. When plants reside outside they are able to grow roots and use them to search for food and nutrients in the ground. Plants that grow in pots have limited soil to search and can only grow as much as their containers allow before becoming constricted.
The potting soil you use is most likely fortified with fertilizers, which will help your plant for about two months. After this time frame you’ll want to start supplementing your plant watering with plant fertilizer. Liquid fertilizers are easy to apply and store and help provide essential nutrients to your plant. A fertilizer like Safer® Brand Oxygen Plus Plant Food also helps you prevent overwatering your houseplant which results in plant suffocation and death. Add liquid fertilizer to your watering routine and your houseplants will thank you with lush growth and beautiful blooms.
Houseplants are not immune to the woes of disease and insect infestation just because they live inside. Small insects like spider mites can be harmful to your family and pets so it is important to prevent and combat pest issues immediately. Small insect killing stakes are available to place in your plant containers to lure and kill bugs before they become problematic. Sprays are also available to kill insects on contact when you identify them.
Get Started Today
Whether it is a couple of houseplants sitting on your table or an herb garden placed on your window sill, the benefits of adding houseplants and life to your home are numerous. From increased happiness and oxygen to fresh herbs available for cooking, a houseplant will make a difference in your home.
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